Savages Part One

He knew he was going to die.

The vehicle must have been doing sixty and there was nowhere for him to run.

Nowhere to hide.

He saw the headlights pierce the night and was momentarily transfixed by them.

Even the dog he was walking seemed paralysed by the sight of the onrushing vehicle.

It stood barking madly but made no attempt to move. As if it to had resigned itself to its fate.

The hedges on either side of the country road were over six feet tall. Thick and impenetrable. There was no way through them or over them.

Beyond the hedges were fields but he knew he would never reach those in time.

The roar of the engine was growing now. He could even hear the squeal of tyres as they tried to grip the road.

Then, finally, he moved, galvanized by the full horror of his situation.

He turned and ran and the dog ran too, still barking as the headlights carved a path through the night.

There was a gate about fifty yards down the road. It led into one of the fields. If he could just reach it. Climb over it.

As he ran, the breath rasped in his lungs, the blood pounded in his ears. He daren't look round. He didn't need to.

He knew from the growing roar of the engine that the vehicle was no more than thirty yards behind now and closing rapidly.

Surely the driver could see him?

Why didn't he slow down?

Twenty yards.

It felt as if his lungs were bursting. The muscles in his legs throbbed as he tried to coax more speed from them.

The gate was almost in sight now.

The dog had overtaken him, running frantically, still barking in fear and excitement.

He could smell the petrol and the burning rubber.

The lights were fixed on him like twin telescopic sights.

Ten yards.

He chanced a look back and saw, in one split second, that there were two people in the cab of the van. A man and a woman. The man was driving, hunched over the wheel, his eyes bulging madly. The woman was screaming something, occasionally punching the drivers arm, sometimes looking behind her.

Five yards.

He was within sight of the gate now. The sanctuary of the fields beckoned.

Then the van hit him.

It catapulted him into the air, blood spraying onto the windscreen and across the grille and headlights of the speeding vehicle.

The body spun skyward, suspended there for interminable seconds like a puppet on invisible strings, before it crashed to the road with a sickening thud.

The van sped on.

The car that was following it attempted to miss the pulverised body but to no avail. The offside front tyre crushed the head of the dead man, the skull bursting like an overripe tomato. A geyser of brain, blood and splintered bone sprayed across the road and the car skidded slightly as it bumped over the corpse, the driver regaining control quickly and pressing his foot down even harder on the accelerator as the van roared on ahead.

The blood smeared on the headlights of the van gave the beams a hellish red tinge. It was like driving into a lake of blood.

The driver flicked on the windscreen wipers to remove the worst of the crimson fluid and squinted to see through the glass.

The woman beside him looked at him, her eyes bulging in the sockets.

She glanced in the wing mirror.

The car was gaining. "Get off the road," she yelled. "I can't," the man shouted back, wrenching the wheel hard as he guided the van around a gentle curve in the narrow road. "I can hardly see where I'm going."?

He looked down at the gap between the seats.

"Use the gun," he snapped.

She shook her head.

"Do it," he roared.

She snatched up the pump action shotgun and worked the slide, chambering a round. She wound down the side window and knelt on the passenger seat, swinging the shotgun up to her shoulder, pulling it tightly to her in preparation for the massive recoil when she fired.

The van was approaching another corner and the driver was forced to slow down slightly.

There was a loud thump from behind.

"Have they hit us?" he wanted to know.

"No. It's coming from inside the van," she told him, her voice cracking.

"Oh, Christ, the sedative must be wearing off."?

He pressed down on the accelerator, flooring it.

The needle on the speedometer touched sixty-five.

The car continued to close on them.

"Use the gun," he urged. "They're close enough now."?

Again she knelt on the passenger seat and raised the weapon, her finger tightening on the trigger. The freezing wind rushed through her hair as she prepared to fire and, for terrifying seconds, she thought she was going to fall from the van.

There was another bend coming up in the road. But this one was much sharper.

The driver realized they were going too fast and eased his foot off the accelerator as he twisted the wheel.

The woman overbalanced and fell back into the cab, the shotgun falling from her shaking hands.

She snatched it up again.

There was another loud thump from inside the van. Then another. Great, booming impacts that threatened to tear through the metal partition of the cab.

There was another turn coming up.

The driver accelerated into it, aware that the pursuing car was drawing ever closer.

The woman held the shotgun tightly to her chest, ready to fire a blast out of the window at the other vehicle.

The bend was sharper than the driver first thought.

As he twisted the wheel he realized he was losing control of the van.

It wasn't going to make the turn.

"Hang on," he shouted, stepping on the brake.

The van careered on at breakneck speed.

Again he pumped the middle pedal. The realization hit him like a sledgehammer.

"No," he shrieked. "The brakes have gone."

© Shaun Hutson 2000